The Universal Investment Strategy (UIS) is one of our core investment strategies. It is an evolved, intelligent version of the classic 60/40 equity/bond portfolio. Much like the classic portfolio, UIS holds both the S&P 500 index and bonds. However, UIS can intelligently adapt to current conditions by shifting weight away from stocks in difficult markets and adding weight in bullish markets.

Instead of using simple bond ETF, UIS uses a sub-strategy, called HEDGE, which can choose between different types of safe-heaven ETFs.

The equity/bond (or in our case equity/HEDGE) pair is interesting because most of the time these two asset classes profit from an inverse correlation. If there is a real stock market correction, usually ETFs included in the HEDGE strategy (Treasuries, Gold, etc) are the 'safe' assets where money flows to, providing crash protection.

'Total return, when measuring performance, is the actual rate of return of an investment or a pool of investments over a given evaluation period. Total return includes interest, capital gains, dividends and distributions realized over a given period of time. Total return accounts for two categories of return: income including interest paid by fixed-income investments, distributions or dividends and capital appreciation, representing the change in the market price of an asset.'

Which means for our asset as example:- The total return, or increase in value over 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy is 47.9%, which is greater, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (41%) in the same period.
- Looking at total return, or increase in value in of 27.3% in the period of the last 3 years, we see it is relatively larger, thus better in comparison to SPY (19.4%).

'Compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is a business and investing specific term for the geometric progression ratio that provides a constant rate of return over the time period. CAGR is not an accounting term, but it is often used to describe some element of the business, for example revenue, units delivered, registered users, etc. CAGR dampens the effect of volatility of periodic returns that can render arithmetic means irrelevant. It is particularly useful to compare growth rates from various data sets of common domain such as revenue growth of companies in the same industry.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (7.1%) in the period of the last 5 years, the compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.1% of Universal Investment Strategy is greater, thus better.
- During the last 3 years, the annual return (CAGR) is 8.4%, which is larger, thus better than the value of 6.1% from the benchmark.

'Volatility is a rate at which the price of a security increases or decreases for a given set of returns. Volatility is measured by calculating the standard deviation of the annualized returns over a given period of time. It shows the range to which the price of a security may increase or decrease. Volatility measures the risk of a security. It is used in option pricing formula to gauge the fluctuations in the returns of the underlying assets. Volatility indicates the pricing behavior of the security and helps estimate the fluctuations that may happen in a short period of time.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (18.2%) in the period of the last 5 years, the historical 30 days volatility of 8% of Universal Investment Strategy is lower, thus better.
- Compared with SPY (20.7%) in the period of the last 3 years, the historical 30 days volatility of 9.1% is lower, thus better.

'The downside volatility is similar to the volatility, or standard deviation, but only takes losing/negative periods into account.'

Applying this definition to our asset in some examples:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (13.4%) in the period of the last 5 years, the downside volatility of 5.7% of Universal Investment Strategy is lower, thus better.
- Compared with SPY (15.4%) in the period of the last 3 years, the downside risk of 6.7% is lower, thus better.

'The Sharpe ratio was developed by Nobel laureate William F. Sharpe, and is used to help investors understand the return of an investment compared to its risk. The ratio is the average return earned in excess of the risk-free rate per unit of volatility or total risk. Subtracting the risk-free rate from the mean return allows an investor to better isolate the profits associated with risk-taking activities. One intuition of this calculation is that a portfolio engaging in 'zero risk' investments, such as the purchase of U.S. Treasury bills (for which the expected return is the risk-free rate), has a Sharpe ratio of exactly zero. Generally, the greater the value of the Sharpe ratio, the more attractive the risk-adjusted return.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:- Looking at the risk / return profile (Sharpe) of 0.7 in the last 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy, we see it is relatively larger, thus better in comparison to the benchmark SPY (0.25)
- Compared with SPY (0.17) in the period of the last 3 years, the Sharpe Ratio of 0.65 is higher, thus better.

'The Sortino ratio, a variation of the Sharpe ratio only factors in the downside, or negative volatility, rather than the total volatility used in calculating the Sharpe ratio. The theory behind the Sortino variation is that upside volatility is a plus for the investment, and it, therefore, should not be included in the risk calculation. Therefore, the Sortino ratio takes upside volatility out of the equation and uses only the downside standard deviation in its calculation instead of the total standard deviation that is used in calculating the Sharpe ratio.'

Which means for our asset as example:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (0.34) in the period of the last 5 years, the ratio of annual return and downside deviation of 0.98 of Universal Investment Strategy is greater, thus better.
- Compared with SPY (0.23) in the period of the last 3 years, the excess return divided by the downside deviation of 0.89 is greater, thus better.

'Ulcer Index is a method for measuring investment risk that addresses the real concerns of investors, unlike the widely used standard deviation of return. UI is a measure of the depth and duration of drawdowns in prices from earlier highs. Using Ulcer Index instead of standard deviation can lead to very different conclusions about investment risk and risk-adjusted return, especially when evaluating strategies that seek to avoid major declines in portfolio value (market timing, dynamic asset allocation, hedge funds, etc.). The Ulcer Index was originally developed in 1987. Since then, it has been widely recognized and adopted by the investment community. According to Nelson Freeburg, editor of Formula Research, Ulcer Index is “perhaps the most fully realized statistical portrait of risk there is.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (5.24 ) in the period of the last 5 years, the Ulcer Index of 2.27 of Universal Investment Strategy is lower, thus better.
- Compared with SPY (6.04 ) in the period of the last 3 years, the Ulcer Ratio of 2.57 is smaller, thus better.

'Maximum drawdown measures the loss in any losing period during a fund’s investment record. It is defined as the percent retrenchment from a fund’s peak value to the fund’s valley value. The drawdown is in effect from the time the fund’s retrenchment begins until a new fund high is reached. The maximum drawdown encompasses both the period from the fund’s peak to the fund’s valley (length), and the time from the fund’s valley to a new fund high (recovery). It measures the largest percentage drawdown that has occurred in any fund’s data record.'

Which means for our asset as example:- Compared with the benchmark SPY (-33.7 days) in the period of the last 5 years, the maximum DrawDown of -16.9 days of Universal Investment Strategy is larger, thus better.
- During the last 3 years, the maximum reduction from previous high is -16.9 days, which is greater, thus better than the value of -33.7 days from the benchmark.

'The Drawdown Duration is the length of any peak to peak period, or the time between new equity highs. The Max Drawdown Duration is the worst (the maximum/longest) amount of time an investment has seen between peaks (equity highs). Many assume Max DD Duration is the length of time between new highs during which the Max DD (magnitude) occurred. But that isn’t always the case. The Max DD duration is the longest time between peaks, period. So it could be the time when the program also had its biggest peak to valley loss (and usually is, because the program needs a long time to recover from the largest loss), but it doesn’t have to be'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:- Looking at the maximum time in days below previous high water mark of 139 days in the last 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy, we see it is relatively lower, thus better in comparison to the benchmark SPY (187 days)
- During the last 3 years, the maximum days under water is 139 days, which is higher, thus worse than the value of 139 days from the benchmark.

'The Drawdown Duration is the length of any peak to peak period, or the time between new equity highs. The Avg Drawdown Duration is the average amount of time an investment has seen between peaks (equity highs), or in other terms the average of time under water of all drawdowns. So in contrast to the Maximum duration it does not measure only one drawdown event but calculates the average of all.'

Using this definition on our asset we see for example:- The average days under water over 5 years of Universal Investment Strategy is 31 days, which is lower, thus better compared to the benchmark SPY (42 days) in the same period.
- During the last 3 years, the average days under water is 31 days, which is smaller, thus better than the value of 36 days from the benchmark.

Historical returns have been extended using synthetic data.
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- Note that yearly returns do not equal the sum of monthly returns due to compounding.
- Performance results of Universal Investment Strategy are hypothetical, do not account for slippage, fees or taxes, and are based on backtesting, which has many inherent limitations, some of which are described in our Terms of Use.